Brain Surgeries and Breakthroughs: my interview with Jen Riday (Part Three—The Most Important Thing)


Read Part One & Part Two. Get the podcast episode.

I think my story is a lot more about resilience than happiness. I do lead a happy life, but the truth is also that I struggle a lot. Not because of my illness, but because of me. Because—like a lot of driven people—I can be my own worst enemy. I overthink and overcomplicate a lot of things. I can be really hard on myself.

It can be comforting to know that no matter what happens to you, some things never change. But what I've come to realize lately, for better or worse, is that I choose to struggle. Just when things start to get easy, I throw a stinkbomb in the middle of everything. It feels more comfortable when things are difficult.

Why do I do this? I wish I knew. I'm starting to understand this a little more now. But what I do know for sure is that it makes me super badass in some parts of my life, and it makes other parts of my life a hot steaming mess. It's vital to live at the edge of my comfort zone, but maybe not All.The.Damn.Time.

What I've learned is that instead of resisting it—and other personal characteristics that I find disagreeable—the most important work I can do is to be more of myself, not less.


The most important lesson my illness has taught me

All of the lessons I've learned in the nine years I've known about my illness can be distilled into a single word: LOVE. Noun and verb.

I'm talking about all of the ways you can show love and be love. You can show it through friendship, through caring for children, through your life's work, through service and philanthropy, through the way you treat people at the grocery store, through romantic relationships, and above all through how you treat yourself.

It is everything. It is EVERYTHING.

All you do, all your life, is for love. It's all we have. It's the whole reason we're here. It's at the root of openness and generosity and vulnerability. It's the source of all the good and bad things that we do.

There's always a way to show more love. It's a choice. And the more you show, the more you are, the more is given to you. It's true of interpersonal relationships and it's true of societies. We could all use a little more of it these days.

Tell people you love them. Show people you love them. What's the worst that could happen?

That's it. That's what I learned.



Thank you for being here with me as I delve into some deeply personal topics. What did you think? I'd love to hear from you. I feel like I just got naked in public.